Darmon, I. & Warde, A. (2014) 'Under pressure – learning from the culinary and alimentary practices of Anglo-French couples for cross-national comparison’, Anthropology of Food, S10


In this paper we explore the merits of interviews with bi-national couples about their eating habits for casting light on cross-national comparison between foodways. In the context of an exploratory study looking at eating habits and change in France and Britain (England), we found that the experiences of cross-cultural couples and cross-national relocation were fruitful vehicles for the comparison of practices. Generally speaking, partners seeking to form a ‘commensal unit’ (Sobal et al., 2002) respond to varying and at times contradictory demands by setting up routines, drawing e.g. in alternated ways on cultural templates from the two countries. However, tensions are not always settled in such ordered ways. The present article studies breaks, shifts and ruptures with particular regard to cooking and lunch arrangements, as they reveal of wider pressures exerted on food practices in the two countries. Our analysis suggests that disorder and ruptures are part of the experience of the French culinary and alimentary ‘order’, whereas more polarised patterns of eating in the UK and related efforts to calculate and balance out the various functions assigned to food spur searches for consistency.

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